[XAVIER MEN] Winner of just five games in the previous two seasons and picked to finish 13th out of 14 teams in the Atlantic 10, Xavier did nothing to change the opinions of conference coaches when it opened with one goal in its first six games. But the Musketeers got the last laugh, turning their season around under first-year coach Andy Fleming and qualifying for the NCAA Tournament for the first time with their A-10 championship.
They did it with three shutouts in a row at the A-10 Tournament, including a shootout win over regular-season champion Charlotte, the host, in the semifinals and a 2-0 win over La Salle in the final.
The Musketeers' goals were scored by James Getzen and Matt Walker. Goalie Justin Marshall recorded his third shutout of the tournament and was named All-Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
Brandon Bucher, Nick Hagglund and Luke Spencer were named to the All-Tournament Team.
The Musketeers (5-4-0 in conference play) became the first team in conference history to advance and win the tournament as a No. 6 seed. They defeated the top three seeds; No. 3 Temple, No. 1 Charlotte and No. 2 La Salle en route to the championship.
Xavier opens Thursday at West Virginia.
"I think this is a good draw for us," says Fleming. "Coach [Marlon] Le Blanc has done a great job in a short amount of time at WVU and they play at a high tempo and feature one of the nation's most exciting flank players in Ray Gaddis. I think that our experiences against teams like Indiana, Charlotte and Butler have prepared us well for what we should see from a speed of play standpoint. As the higher seed from a major conference with a strong tradition, they are expected to win and we will play loose, play in our system, and see where the chips fall."
Fleming came to XU after spending the last three seasons as the associate head coach/recruiting coordinator at Northwestern.